Penn State Hockey has come to a crossroads of sorts.
After their trip to New York, and Madison Square Garden this weekend, along with its 3-1 loss at the hands of Cornell, the Nittany Lions have reached the midway point of their extended fall road trip.
The Lions haven’t seen the friendly confines of Pegula Ice Arena since Halloween, and after a fifth road game this past weekend, they’ll have four more away from home before returning to the Peg early in 2015.
Coach Guy Gadowsky didn’t want to say that the long break was wearing on his team, but did mention how much they were missing the home ice.
"You look forward to playing here so much," he said. "Even if you played here the last five nights in a row, you still can’t wait to get back on the ice here."
The Lions will travel to Wisconsin this weekend for a pair against the Badgers before a couple of weeks off leading up to two games in Pittsburgh at the end of the month.
New York, New York
Despite the 3-1 loss to the Big Red, Gadowsky was happy with his team’s trip to New York, and felt that they handled it well.
When asked about MSG compared to other NHL arenas that he’s seen with Penn State in the past few years.
"It was phenomenal," Gadowsky said. "It was great. It was a great atmosphere. I mean, its Madison Square Garden, so it was extremely cool."
Gadowsky was generally pleased with his team’s performance, despite the loss, citing that Cornell’s defense was third in the nation, and that it is a difficult team to generate offense against, while additionally adding that his team was on the bad end of some luck, as his team hit a shot off of both Cornell’s post and crossbar.
The size of the Big Red was a bit of a difficult match for the Lions, who are built in a similar manner.
Gadowsky wasn’t concerned with any result, however.
"It certainly was a different game, but I don’t think we’re all of a sudden going back to the drawing board and rethinking what we’re recruiting," the fourth-year coach said.
The injury bug has bit the Lions a little bit this season, but that will finally begin to get back on the right track this week.
Gadowsky was happy with his team getting a win two weeks ago at Michigan in its depleted state, considering whom his team was missing.
Among those missing have been forwards Dylan Richard and David Glen, both of whom are expected to return this weekend in Madison.
"Glen and [Richard] bring a lot of our identity to us," the coach said, referring to how Glen and Richard possess the cross between physicality and finesse that the coach is so often seeking.
Additionally, Gadowsky thinks that Richard and Glen’s return will help them win more face-offs.
Forwards Eric Scheid, Jonathan Milley, Zach Saar, and defenseman Connor Varley are all expected to be out yet again this weekend, but Saar, who had been out for the whole season and isn’t expected to return until after Christmas, was back practicing on the ice.
The coach said that Saar has been skating and progressing well, but due to his injury, isn’t able to fully recover, as his "wind" isn’t entirely back just yet.
"He’s really struggling with the conditioning aspect of it," Gadowsky said.
The Nittany Lions will face off with two against the underachieving (1-8-1) Wisconsin Badgers this weekend in Madison.